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Poster: Administrator, Curator, or StaffVideo-Cellar Date: Jul 24, 2009 10:07am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: GATT Filings

The section of the law that includes the qualifications for GATT/URAA restoration is below:

"(6) The term “restored work” means an original work of authorship that—
(A) is protected under subsection (a);
(B) is not in the public domain in its source country through expiration of term of protection;
(C) is in the public domain in the United States due to—
(i) noncompliance with formalities imposed at any time by United States copyright law, including failure of renewal, lack of proper notice, or failure to comply with any manufacturing requirements;
(ii) lack of subject matter protection in the case of sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972; or
(iii) lack of national eligibility;
(D) has at least one author or rightholder who was, at the time the work was created, a national or domiciliary of an eligible country, and if published, was first published in an eligible country and not published in the United States during the 30-day period following publication in such eligible country.
(E) if the source country for the work is an eligible country solely by virtue of its adherence to the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, is a sound recording."(Title 17, §104A(h))

Quite a number of British films do not qualify for copyright restoration because they were released in the US within 30 days of publication in the UK, or, in a few cases, published in the US first.

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Poster: Fact_Checker Date: Jul 28, 2009 6:49am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: GATT Filings

The above is entirely true. Readers do have to be careful, though, about SOME works first shown in the U.S. prior to in their "eligible country" or which were first shown in the U.S. in the 30 days immediately following publication in the "source country."

Here's why: Video-cellar wrote: "Quite a number of British films do not qualify for copyright restoration because they were released in the US within 30 days of publication in the UK, or, in a few cases, published in the US first."

If you look again at the section 104A statute and then again at Video-cellar's wording, you'll notice that the statute uses the term "publication" whereas Video-cellar mentions "release." The two terms CAN refer to the same event -- and yet sometimes they don't.

Mere exhibition did not constitute "publication" under American law. The wording of the law indicates this, and there are some court decisions affirming this, if you want to look around for them.

With British films, this is not too often going to be a concern, because British filmmakers typically didn't take it upon themselves to exhibit their films in the U.S. in a manner that would be mere "performance" but NOT "publication." They tended to turn over their works to others for this, and that was enough for there to be publication (as the law defined it). If you want to see how convoluted these definitions could make it to determine whether a work is in the public domain, read about how the relevant portions of 104A are enough to preclude Charlie Chaplin's "The Gold Rush" from getting GATT protection.

See http://chart.copyrightdata.com/exercises.html

Scroll down about half-way, where you will see a Copyright Office Copyright Catalog entry for the film. You'll notice that "The Gold Rush" was registered as a "published" work, even though Chaplin might have opted to declare the film "unpublished." The text above and below the image tell of Chaplin's British citizenship being grounds for his estate to attempt to suppress public-domainers from using the film owing to supposed eligibility for GATT, but indicates what the apparent publication dates of the film was in the two countries, which thus deprive the Chaplin estate of that claim.

archivemovie123 asked about "The Scarlet Pimpernel." Apparently the film was shown in London in December 1934, was reviewed in "The New York Times" Feb 8, 1935 (suggesting it just opened NYC then), and has an official American release date of Feb 15, 1935 (this last according to TCMdb). I'd say this doesn't qualify under the 30-day rule.

See http://chart.copyrightdata.com/ForeignExercises.html to find out how a few other British films fared when they are subjected to inquiry under the 30-day rule.

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Poster: archivemovie123 Date: Jul 29, 2009 2:07pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: GATT Filings

So Fact_Checker do you mean that Scarlet Pimpernel isn't Public Domain in the US?

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Poster: Fact_Checker Date: Jul 29, 2009 5:11pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Scarlet Pimpernel copyright (Re: GATT Filings)

I was asked: "So Fact_Checker do you mean that Scarlet Pimpernel isn't Public Domain in the US?"

When I wrote before, I was indicating that I saw reason for it not being p.d., as I recalled seeing it listed as a 1934 film in British sources and that it was shown in the U.K. in December 1934.

Now that the question has been posed, I went to "Halliwell's Film Guide" (which I hasten to mention is British, for anyone reading this who didn't know) and see that it lists "The Scarlet Pimpernel" as 1934.

Furthermore, a quick check of timesonline.co.uk (the archives of the Times of London) shows an item on December 24, 1934, titled "New Films For Christmas" that turns up on a search for the film title combined with "Leslie Howard." I recognize that to be thorough, I should read this article, but that costs money, so I leave that task and expense to those with a financial or legal interest in the outcome.

It remains the case that the U.S. release date given by TCMdb and the review date in "The New York Times" are more than a week into February 1935, and thus more than 30 days after when I surmise there were U.K. showings.

I just looked at the "New York Times" review, which is at

http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9500E2DD113FE53ABC4053DFB466838E629EDE

It's dated Feb 8, 1935, and mentions the film was then at the Radio City Music Hall, without saying when it opened. It was standard practice for the "Times" to get a review in the day after an opening, so let's not assume the film had been there long.

I don't believe that any of the information I've given here is difficult for anyone else to obtain.

Is "The Scarlet Pimpernel" of 1934/1935 in the public domain? If so, it's not for lack of eligibility for restoration based on its publication dates in the two relevant countries. As indicated here, and assuming that the assumptions made are borne out, "The Scarlet Pimpernel" didn't open in the U.S. (nor was it available to U.S. theaters) until AFTER thirty days beyond the first U.K. screenings. This entitles it to pass one of the most stringent hurdles in GATT. (As for the other hurdles in GATT, does anyone know of any that might apply? This is hardly a film that would have been caught up in the Alien Custodian trap!!!)

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Poster: Fact_Checker Date: Jul 29, 2009 5:42pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Scarlet Pimpernel copyright (Re: GATT Filings)

After posting the above, I happened to notice that in my Times of London search results (timesonline.co.uk), there was also an item dated December 21, 1934, under the headline "Leicester Square Theatre" which looks just like the top of a film review. The exposed part of the article says it is a film from Baroness Orczy's [novel], "produced by Alexander Ko[rda] and with "Leslie How[ard]" as "Sir Percy Blakeney". It sure looks like a review of a film which already had its theater! (As with the other Times article, I haven't looked beyond the free preview shown on the site.)

Does anyone have evidence that the British opening of "The Scarlet Pimpernel" was January 8, 1935, or later?

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Poster: Administrator, Curator, or StaffVideo-Cellar Date: Jul 29, 2009 8:50pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Scarlet Pimpernel copyright (Re: GATT Filings)

Pimpernel's US copyright status could be quite difficult to determine. I am sure that the 30 day rule does not apply to it, as you have demonstrated. But the Director, Harold Young, the sole "Author" of the work under British law of the time, was a US citizen. So it may not pass the citizenship or domiciliary test.

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Poster: Fact_Checker Date: Jul 30, 2009 6:06pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Scarlet Pimpernel copyright (Re: GATT Filings)

The question posed here is whether copyright eligibility is dependent upon the nationality of the director. I recognize that under CURRENT U.K. law, there could be no GATT recognition if NONE of the following were British citizens or domiciliaries: "(a) the principal director,
(b) the author of the screenplay,
(c) the author of the dialogue, [and]
(d) the composer of music specially created for and used in the film".

The question here is whether the changes in the U.K. law apply retroactively to a 1934 film. A change in U.K. law in 1956 affected the status of films already under copyright, and changes introduced 1988/1995 had effects on duration of copyrights already in effect. Now, whether a 1934 copyright came to have the specific protections of the 1995 U.K. law, that I don't know.

From the limited adjustments in U.K. copyright law that I've seen, the increases in copyright term in the U.K. were granted to older works -- just as in the United States, changes in U.S. law have extended duration of copyright on "subsisting works".

At present, U.K. law says that a copyright "expires at the end of the period of 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the death occurs of the last to die of the following persons --
(a) the principal director,
(b) the author of the screenplay,
(c) the author of the dialogue, or
(d) the composer of music specially created for and used in the film".

Let's suppose the U.K. legislators decided that they would grant this broader protection on previously-copyrighted works. As the legislators may have seen it, they were merely extending copyright on most of these works. (In most cases, computing copyright expiration based on the last-to-die of the longer list of creators would amount to an extension of the expiration date of copyright, since mathematically you can expect one of the non-directors to live until a later year than the director (in that there are more non-directors).)

An unintended by-product of such an act by the legislators would be that a work on which a non-Brit was the author would now have some Brits among the multiple persons considered to be authors. Result: U.S. recognition of copyright under GATT.

Backing away from the supposing, the question to be asked is whether what is outlined above is actually what came into being. Lacking access to the earlier U.K. laws (although I believe I can find copies), I don't have an answer as of the time that I'm writing this. (If someone else reading this does have access, let him step in with the answers.)

Some piecemeal info:

In U.K. 1995 legislation is a section "Extended and revived copyright" and provisions for "(e) published films and films falling within section 13(3)(a) of the 1956 Act (films registered under former enactments relating to registration of films)." The latter are to "subsist until the date on which it would have expired under the 1956 Act" -- yet works with "extended copyrights" are in a class which "subsists by virtue of the new provisions after the date on which it would have expired under the 1988 provisions".

As has been the case in the past, I found some relevant quotations from the applicable laws at copyrightdata. One page assembles passages from recent U.K. law that addresses the extended copyrights, revived copyrights, and the granting to pre-1956 films the provisions of the 1956 changes:

http://chart.copyrightdata.com/UK_law.html

I see a pattern of newer law applying to older works, but I see nothing on the specific matter of whether the definition of "author" of a 1934 film was retroactively broadened to include creators other than the director. (By saying that I see nothing, I mean that I can't tell whether persons other than the director of "The Scarlet Pimpernel" are to now being considered the author or whether it's definitely the case that other persons are absolutely not authors insofar as U.K. law is presently concerned.)

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Poster: Administrator, Curator, or StaffVideo-Cellar Date: Jul 30, 2009 8:32pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Scarlet Pimpernel copyright (Re: GATT Filings)

The 1956 UK copyright Act is available online at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1956/pdf/ukpga_19560074_en.pdf.

The copyright term for motion pictures under 1956 act was to the end of 50 years from publication or registration. This term was originally duplicated in the 1988 Act and was changed to the multiple authors calculation in the 1995 legislation.

1911 Act protected films a class of dramatic work were the director of a film was the author of the film as a dramatic work. This law was still in effect until July 1957.

So, under the 1956 Act, Scarlet Pimpernel's copyright would have expired at the end of 1984 as it was registered under the Films Act. The provision of the 1995 legislation for "(e) published films and films falling within section 13(3)(a) of the 1956 Act (films registered under former enactments relating to registration of films)" to "subsist until the date on which it would have expired under the 1956 Act" might suggest that the copyright in the work was not revived by the 1995 Act. Thus, it would have been PD in its source country at GATT??

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Poster: Fact_Checker Date: Aug 4, 2009 6:43am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Scarlet Pimpernel copyright (Re: GATT Filings)

Thanks Video-Cellar. The 1956 UK law text looks very conclusive. As you indicate, under this set of rules, a 1934 movie went into the public domain in the UK in 1984, and thus when GATT went into effect (passed by U.S. Congress in 1994) would already be beyond eligibility, based on the rule that any work that had gone into the public domain in the source country for having exhausted the time limits is not eligibility for a new copyright in the U.S.

The U.K. broadened copyrights in 1988, but that was after 1984, thus seemingly not applicable to a 1934 movie. The only thing I can see being of effect here is yet some other change in the U.K. dated 1957 to 1984, but I'm aware of no major changes to U.K. copyright law during those years.

Once again, it was great to have Video-Cellar provide the link and let all of us reading here see what the U.K. legislature enacted in their own words.

Question: does anyone know of any source for decades-old copyright law texts for France, Italy, Germany, Sweden and the other countries that made movies which appealed to Americans? Better still: decades-old copyright law texts in English translations? The WIPO web site is a great resource for the current laws (in English translations, no less), but this "Scarlet Pimpernel" thread has proven the value of the historic law texts.

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Poster: archivemovie123 Date: Jul 29, 2009 2:03pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: GATT Filings

So Fact_Checker do you mean that Scarlet Pimpernel isn't Public Domain in the US?